Search marketing, search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising. It can all seem a little overwhelming. But it really needn’t. No longer are all these fields the domain of tech-geeks and IT wizards. More and more, they really are becoming part of mainstream marketing. And, once you know the basics, all these concepts are very easy to get your head around.
What is Search Marketing?
Search marketing is a type of online marketing. It covers all efforts to gain traffic and visibility from the search engines (like Google) through both organic (search engine optimisation or SEO) and paid (search engine marketing or SEM) efforts.
Search marketing is all about ensuring that, when Internet users type your targeted search term into Google, your website ranks as high as humanly possible.
Tips for Successful Search Engine Optimisation
Contrary to popular belief, here at Marketing.com.au, we believe that search engine optimisation (or SEO) is something everyone can do. It’s not witchcraft or dark arts. There’s no secret handshake or initiation ceremony. SEO is simply another aspect of marketing. While we don’t expect that everyone will be able to become an expert, we do believe that everyone can get a handle on the basics.
The goal of SEO is not to game, or cheat, the search engines. Rather, it is to create an enjoyable, seamless user experience and to communicate to the search engines that your website is relevant, and includes high-quality material, related to specific subjects.
Like the rest of us, search engines (whether its Google or Yahoo or Bing) just want to do their job as best they can. The job of a search engine is to refer users to high-quality websites with the most relevant content. So, let’s take at look at the factors that the search engines examine in determining whether a site is high-quality.
SEO Factor #1: Content
The search engines are on the hunt for high-quality, well-written content. Content with clear, specific headings and titles. Content that hasn’t been duplicated from elsewhere on the web. Content that makes sense. Content that is updated, or added to (like through blog articles) regularly.
What to do: Are you awake? This is our biggest tip when it comes to SEO. If you do nothing else, and take nothing else away from this article, just remember this: make sure you have clear, specific page titles and headings. Every page must have a h1 (but no more than one h1). Your h1 should contain the keyword(s) for which you are trying to rank. Every page should also include h2s, that reference your keywords. If you do no other SEO than audit your page headings, then our work here is done!
SEO Factor #2: Performance
Google is not going to send its users to a poor-performing website. If your website is painfully slow to load, or times out, you are in hot water. Users are no longer willing to wait around. They will bounce. Google does not like websites with high bounce-rates. The longer your website takes to load, the further down the search results your site will be pushed.
What to do: If you have one, speak to your web developer. Find out what it is that is slowing down your site. If it’s a rotating, flaming logo on the homepage, remove it. Compress all the images on your site to as small a file size as possible. Remove extraneous files and pages and graphics and animations. Good developers love to build fast websites, so make sure you’ve got a good developer!
SEO Factor #3: User Experience
This factor is a little broader. It encompasses all aspects of what makes your website a pleasure (or a pain) to visit. It includes things like the look and feel of website. Does your website look safe? Or is the homepage covered in spammy-looking links and thousands of advertisements? This factor includes the navigation of your website: is it easy-to-use, is it intuitive? A word of advice here, even though you think it might be cute or trendy, don’t use vague or abstract main menu titles. Don’t use ‘Ping Me’ instead of ‘Contact Us’. Don’t use ‘The Deets’ when you really mean ‘About Us’. Go with convention wherever possible.
What do to: When you (or your web developer) are building your website, think about it from the perspective of your users. What is going to make their lives easier? What conventions or navigation or design is going to best help guide their journey through the pages of your website? Once you have that sussed, implement it.
SEO Factor #4: Authority
Are you, or your website, an authority on any given topic? Are other high-quality websites linking back to the content on your website? Have you published content or data or information that isn’t available anywhere else? Do you have authoritative bloggers writing for you? All these elements help build the authority of your website, and therefore your ranking within a Google search.
What to do: Focus on improving the authority and the quality of the content on your website (this is also obvious closely intertwined with SEO Factor #1: Content). Great ways to do this include conducting your own surveys (use Survey Monkey – it’s free, easy to use and provides detailed reports) and reporting on the data, interviewing thought-leaders within your particular niche, writing white papers, and publishing ebooks.
A couple of quick tips on what the search engines are not looking for (apart from the antithesis of all the factors that we have covered above):
- Keyword stuffing: do not cram as many instances of your chosen keyword into your web content as possible. With the ‘Hummingbird’ update changes, Google is much more intuitive. It can draw conclusions from the context of the content on your page. You no longer need to have exact text matches to rank for a particular keyword or phrase.
- Purchased or spammy links: with all SEO tactics, you should be thinking long-term. While purchased and spammy links might provide a quick rankings boost, long-term you will suffer penalties. Don’t purchase links and don’t exchange links with spammy sites.
Tips for Successful Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) is focused mainly on per pay click (PPC) advertising. In this model, website owners pay the search engines when users click on their ads and arrive at their website. Pay per click ads appear above, and to the right-hand side, of organic search results on a search engine results page.
Website owners are able to pick and choose which keywords and keyword phrases they want to trigger their ads. Then, they select the maximum price they are willing to pay to have an Internet user click their ad. Generally speaking, there will be a whole raft of companies bidding on the same keyword, making this form of online advertising quite competitive.
SEM Tip #1: Do Some Keyword Research
Make sure that your PPC campaign is backed by a solid foundation of keyword research. Use Google’s free online Keyword Planner. Ideally, you want to opt for keywords with high traffic and low competition. Then, create landing pages on your website that target each of these keywords. Ensure that your PPC adverts send users directly to the relevant page.
SEM Tip #2: Keep an Eye on Your Competition
Before launching any SEM campaign, enter your top five or ten keywords or keyword phrases into Google. Take a look at the websites that are ranking highly. These are your competition. Know whom it is that you are up against. How are they using keywords? What do their PPC adverts look like?
SEM Tip #3: Be Willing to Test Out Different Ad Copy
Your first PPC advertising campaign might be a bust. So might your second campaign. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to success. So, you might need to test the waters on your first couple of campaigns. Use them to work out what works best for your product, for your brand, for your target market. Just be sure to set a cap on your campaign budget. You don’t want to end up with a huge bill overnight.
SEM Tip #4: Track Conversions and Return on Investment
As with any type of marketing campaign, it is vital to measure the success of your PPC campaign. Google has free conversion tracking features for your website – it’s some basic scripting that you add so you know that a visitor has purchased a product, or signed up to your newsletter. Use conversion tracking. Similarly, if you aren’t getting the ROI you need, change things up. Be smart. Change your bids. Focus on other keywords.
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